THE decision by the Primary and Secondary Education ministry to nullify the 2017 Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) English Paper 2 over cheating allegations has cast a shadow on the credibility of the examination body while some Zimbabweans feel a better decision could have been made.
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
A survey by NewsDay yesterday showed that Zimbabweans were upset by the decision that will affect over 260 000 students, saying stakeholders should have been consulted before such drastic action was announced.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima on Thursday nullified the results and immediately announced that affected candidates would rewrite next Friday between 10am and 12 noon.
Mavima was yesterday not answering his phone and did not respond to questions sent to him.
Top lawyer and former Finance minister Tendai Biti said the decision to nullify the results was “painful and shocking” to students, parents and teachers.
“And to imagine they are being told to read again and prepare to write shows how broken down the state of our affairs are,” he said.
“We can do better than this. Key in such decisions would have been to check the extent of the leak and localise it where it started. This harms the credibility of our examinations and the decision to nullify was not well thought out.”
Biti said the decision was bad for a government that was supposed to be doing well.
Another lawyer and politician, Job Sikhala, said Mavima’s decision was a serious misdirection which immensely discredited the local examination body and its parent ministry.
“Many students and parents are going to be prejudiced on the grounds of failure by Zimsec to run the affairs of the national examination body. Further, a diligence study should have been undertaken by the ministry to find out the magnitude of the leak and on how much it impacted at the national scale.
“Parents, as the major stakeholders, have a number of questions that need answers whether each and every examination centre has recorded the leakage of the paper,” he said.
Resolving for universal punishment against other centres that held their examinations without reports of leakage was gross misdirection by the ministry, he said.
Sikhala suggested that Mavima should conduct a clean-up at Zimsec as a matter of urgency.
“Despite all good efforts he will try to do for the common good of our education, he will ever be betrayed by treacherous elements in Zimsec who for the love of money will ever leak the examination papers.”
Former Primary and Secondary Education minister David Coltart sang a different tune saying he was supportive of Mavima’s decision, but was worried why the decision came late.
He said arrangements should be made that those going for ‘A’ Level should proceed while they await their English Paper 2 results.
“I am sympathetic with his [Mavima] decision. He was left with very little options if we are to maintain the integrity of our examinations,” Coltart said.
He also felt there was need to probe Zimsec to establish the source of the problem.
Some parents asked if arrangements had been made with boarding schools where some children sat for their examinations.
Other parents felt consultation should have been done with schools to establish how students performed during mid-year examinations to come up with a better decision.
“They could base a child’s results on his performance during the course of the year. Someone’s mistake is costing an entire nation,” Emily Ndou, of Beitbridge, said.